Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship, part 4.
Title: Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship, part 4.
The reward of the steward is revealed to us by the apostle Paul.
1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things [demanded earnings for his work]. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.
1Co 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
1Co 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
There is a verb in the Greek that sort of gets lost in translation. It is translated as "under" with the noun "compulsion."
"ananke [a compulsion] gar [for] moi [me] epikeitai [is laying on me]"
For if I am preaching the good news, there is nothing for me to boast about, for a necessary compulsion is pressing down upon me, for woe to me if I do not proclaim the good news. [Wuest expanded NT]
Epikeimai means to be placed on or to lie on. It is used of Lazarus' stone upon the mouth of the grave and also for the heavy storm that pressed down on Paul's ship to Rome. When coupled with the noun "compulsion" it refers to a very pressing necessity.
"A necessary compulsion pressing down upon me" is a good phrase for defining the plan of God.
As a child of God, you have no other calling than the stewardship He gave you. You didn't apply for it. So, there is no reward other than doing it freely.
1Co 9:18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Paul states that his reward is to offer the gospel without any care of compensation, in other words, it is to freely do what he has been compelled to do. He desires it more than anything, and so he is willing to suffer, to go without even basic sustenance to do it.
When our will corresponds to God's will in love and desire, the reward is life - a life fulfilled and full of joy beyond imagination.
What joy of fulfillment there is in freely doing what you must do as given to you by God's gracious desire. There is a fulfillment of joy when you and God walk through this life together, when your life and God's life are comprised of the same loves and desires. It means a very intimate fellowship with Him in everything you do while you anticipate exiting this dark world to live with Him face to face.
"compulsion" - ananke = a necessity.
We must understand that the stewardship that God has given us is a compulsion, but we are not forced to fulfill it. Our free-will must choose it, and if we do, then our lives will be made full.
Let's look at some other uses of this word in the NT.
Phm 12 And I have sent him [Onesimus = useful] back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart,
Phm 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that in your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;
Phm 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, that your goodness should not be as it were by compulsion, but of your own free will.
Philemon cannot be forced to allow Onesimus to serve Paul and thus be given his freedom. But then Paul says to Philemon that he owes Paul his life, so is there a compulsion? Paul subtly tells Philemon that he is under compulsion, but then emphasizes that it is his choice to follow it.
Phm 15 For perhaps he was for this reason parted from you for a while, that you should have him back forever,
Phm16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Phm17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.
Phm18 But if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account;
Phm19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (lest I should mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).
Phm20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
How do you say no to that? How do we say no to God?
Many in the world are sure that they are compelled to other things than God's plan for their lives.
Luk 14:16 But He said to him, "A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many;
Luk 14:17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited,' Come; for everything is ready now.'
Luk 14:18 "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need [ananke] to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.'
As we see in the parable, God fills up the dinner hall with uninvited guests. To many, doing business is compulsory, but receiving God's invitation is not. It is insane, but it is an ever present reality.
Compulsion and giving: being a good steward of money.
2Co 9:6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.
2Co 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
The law of Christ is inescapable. In this case, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully. The former may be wealthy and declare that he has reaped bountifully despite sowing sparingly, but what did he reap? Is material wealth the richest of things that our Lord wishes us to reap?
The gracious heart has the bounty of affecting the lives of others. The sparing know it not, only enriching themselves.
When we face Christ, He is not going to present us with a lifelong financial ledger. He is going to present us with our good works.
Next we find the believer being delighted with all the compulsions laid upon him by God.